It goes without saying the Philadelphia Eagles have a lot of offseason needs. And speaking of those, Rotoworld’s Evan Silva came up with a list of roster needs for all 32 NFL teams. Here are the top three positions he highlighted for the Eagles.
Completely devoid of perimeter playmakers, the 2016 Eagles finished 29th in 20-plus-yard pass plays (39) despite ranking sixth in the league in pass attempts (609). Slot man Jordan Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz are reliable possession targets, but Philly needs someone to stretch the field. They’ve been linked to free agents DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery.
Receiver is obviously a huge need for the Eagles. Their current pass catching corps is disgustingly bad.
The Eagles might be able to draft some receiver talent to help fix the problem, but they can’t (and likely won’t) rely on the draft alone. Philadelphia needs immediate help at the position. Go out and get someone who can help Carson Wentz immediately. Having young receivers who can grow with Wentz would be ideal, yes. But he also needs some guys who can actually be relied upon to catch a damn football and maybe even get open every once in a while.
The Eagles could (and should) sign multiple receivers in NFL free agency. I’m not saying they have to go out and get two top-tier guys like Alshon Jeffrey and DeSean Jackson, but at least one of those kind of players would be nice. Plus a solid mid-tier guy.
The Eagles don’t have a single starting-caliber cornerback under contract for 2017. Incumbent RCB Nolan Carroll is a free agent, and LCB Leodis McKelvin was cut after the season. Slot corner Ron Brooks got torched before tearing his quad in October. The coaching staff seems high on 2016 seventh-round pick Jalen Mills, although he finished dead last among 120 qualifiers in Pro Football Focus’ cornerback grades.
The Eagles haven’t had stability at the cornerback position in approximately forever. It hasn’t been due to a lack of effort, either. Philadelphia has tried spending big money at the corner position (see: Nnamdi Asomugha, Byron Maxwell) but it just hasn’t worked out.
The feeling here is the Eagles need to avoid pricey free agent corners and rather focus on drafting and developing some defensive backs. The problem is that the Eagles have been terrible at doing this as well. Spending some high draft picks on corners might help the Eagles fix their corner problem.
The Eagles’ No. 3 need is debatable with running back, offensive line, and outside linebacker as positions Philly could also address. I went with defensive line instead because it was one of the Eagles’ few team strengths and they need to keep it that way. NT Bennie Logan’s contract is up, while RE Connor Barwin may be released. The entire defense is painfully short on depth.
The Eagles’ third biggest need after the obvious areas of concern is indeed up for debate. Defensive line isn’t a bad pick. If the Eagles aren’t able to retain Logan, defensive tackle immediately becomes a big need. Beau Allen has been an adequate backup but will he hold up as a starter? Even if the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ the Eagles will need more depth at the position.
Defensive end is also an underrated need. There’s truth to the old adage: “you can never have too many pass rushers.” It’s not perfectly clear who the Eagles will turn to after they soon move on from Barwin. One would think Vinny Curry will be the new starter, but is that really the case? The coaching staff only played him on 42.5% of the team’s snaps last season after the front office handed him a big contract extension. Do the Eagles truly see Curry as a full-time starter? Once again, even if the answer is ‘yes,’ the Birds will still need more depth behind him. The 2017 NFL Draft certainly has some pass rushers worth selecting.
Personally, I don’t think running back is talked about enough as a big need for the Eagles. Philadelphia doesn’t have a true lead back. Darren Sproles is a good player but he’s going to retire after the 2017 season. Wendell Smallwood has the makings of a Correll Buckhalter type: a nice rotational back but not a feature guy by any means. Kenjon Barner is a restricted free agent. Byron Marshall spent most of the 2016 season on the practice squad. Terrell Watson could turn out to be nothing more than a camp body.
The Eagles need to get serious about the running back position. I’m not saying they need to draft a rusher in the first round, but it’s imperative they enter the 2017 season with a true lead back.
People say the NFL is a passing league but the truth is running the ball is still very important. Running the football effectively often makes passing the ball easier. Look no further than the success Dak Prescott had as a rookie thanks to Ezekiel Elliott. Or Nick Foles’ historical season with NFL rushing leader LeSean McCoy in 2013. Or Tony Romo’s great year when DeMarco Murray led the league in rushing in 2014.
Having a strong run game would make life a lot easier on Wentz. The Eagles must invest resources into improving their backfield this offseason.